We caught up with a very special and unassuming alt-folk singer-songwriter, Riley Pearce, who’s on the rise, not least in his Australian homeland, but across the waters over here in Europe. It becomes evident that Pearce measures his true success through the people he is able to reach and their connection to his music as we discuss how significant busking is alongside maintaining a digital presence to both gain new followers of his music and push him on creatively.
Ahead of the release of his new EP, Pearce is touring his home country for the month of October before heading to the studio to finalise his record and launch into a full European and UK tour, Spring 2018.
So Riley, would you mind introducing us to your music – we read that you was once studying for a business degree, at what point did you feel the musical path was for you?
Suppose that would be a good way to start things hey, my music is a bit of a collection of reflective alt-folk songs, or as my mum says “too many sad songs for my liking”. Yeah, that is true… I did a commerce degree out of school and just started getting more and more involved and interested in my music by the end of it all.
How is the music scene over in Perth, where you’re currently based? There’s a bit of an epidemic with so many small venues closing down over here in the UK. These venues are momentous to bands starting out. Would you say there’s a decent enough gig circuit in Perth?
Perth is a great place besides the fact it’s so far away from everything. But even that has its positives sometimes. The scene here is like a massive family, everyone’s super supportive and the bands that break it are always so deserving because they’ve honed their craft here for so long. I know the East Coast has had a lot of that venue closing down nonsense. We’ve had a few but also a few new ones pop up.
What outlet would you say gains you the biggest amount of interest when it comes to sharing your music/gaining a following – busking, gigs, social media, streaming services?
I always love busking… It’s such a terrific way to interact with people and try new things. I suppose it’s a combination of it all. I got lucky early on with some Spotify playlist love but I think nowadays its important to have somewhat of a presence everywhere…. As annoying as that is to maintain.
So many bands start out busking and a few stay true to themselves, even when signed, keeping it real by continuing to perform in this way. How has this helped you and do you know of any local musicians that have gained success from putting their music out there in this way?
Yeh I started out busking at farmers markets on the weekend during high school, or the local fairs that came around each summer. I don’t do it as regularly as I’d like nowadays but still a couple of times a year. Melbourne’s busking scene is amazing, Perth has a bit of a stricter licensing system and there’s not as many places to play. Pierce Brothers and Tash Sultana are two of the big busking success stories out of there.
Tell us more about your latest single: ‘Misplaced’ – it certainly hooked us from first listen, hinting to bigger things, can we expect a debut album to soon follow?
Yeh, ‘Misplaced’ I wrote early on in a new relationship. I was unsure if anything was going to come from it because there we were such different people. I’m looking to have an EP out midway through next year.
What’s been the biggest inspiration to your musical style, I can definitely hear nuances of Bon Iver on ‘Misplaced’ and a little bit of Daughter on ‘Brave’… and Ben Howard definitely coming through your style of guitar playing.
I think there’s probably too many to list. I used to listen to The Fray on repeat when I was a kid because I loved his voice. The Jezabels are probably my favourite Australian band of all time and their influence probably comes through at times. Ben Howard and Bon Iver too (good pick) are also two of my faves.
Where do you feel most inspired to write and record your music?
I don’t know if I have one particular place. I love a good balcony/porch songwriting session. At the moment it’s mostly in my garage or on my bed that I end up writing and recording. Being on the road and seeing new things always helps to get them ideas flowing.
What do you like to do outside of music?
I love my food…. My girlfriend runs a small little bagel stall at markets some weekends so you might find me chowing one down. Love a bit of basketball and footy too, so that often takes up a bit of my time.
Have you travelled much both within and outside of Australia? If so, what places, situations, people, if any experiences, have fed into your writing?
I was born in Melbourne, then lived in Holland for a few years when I was little. Moved to Perth when I was 8 and have lived there since. I did a semester studying in Montana and definitely caught the travel bug since. Being in new places and seeing the world with fresh eyes is hugely impactful on my writing.
Have you been to/played/do you have any plans to tour Europe and the UK?
I was lucky enough to head to London earlier this year and played two shows there. Things went really well so I’ll be back there in April next year for an extended period and will hopefully play some shows around Europe too.
What are you currently working on?
I’m currently working on a new EP which I aim to put out next year, I’m also prepping my live set for tours around Australia in October.
And finally, do you have any new music recommendations from Australia that we ought to check out?
Was hoping you’d ask this…. Australia has so many great artists.
- Alexander Biggs
- Neighbourhood Youth
For you lucky Australian’s, be sure to catch Riley Pearce on tour next month, details/tickets here
For the rest of us, hold tight, kick back to Riley’s music and keep tabs on his European/UK Spring 2018 tour dates here!